Families in Wright County now have access to technology to save
the lives of those with special needs who may wander away, thanks
to the fundraising efforts of Buffalo Hospital Foundation.
Freedom Watch uses state-of-the-art technology and specially
trained teams to rapidly locate lost children and adults with
autism, Alzheimer's disease and related disorders.
Clients enrolled in Freedom Watch wear a wristband which
emits a tracking signal. The signal can be picked up as far as one
mile on the ground and 10 miles by air.
If a person wearing a bracelet ever is lost, their caregiver
calls 911 and a Freedom Watch search and rescue team responds
with a mobile tracking system. Recovery times average less than 30
Sergeant Brian Johnson of the Wright County Sheriff's Office
says it's a good tool to help searchers. "Time is of the essence
when you are searching for any missing person, but even more so if
they have special needs. Freedom Watch gives us an advantage
because it allows us to narrow large search areas."
Freedom Watch training also included education on how to
interact best with people with conditions like autism and
Locating the individual is only part of the mission. The person
may be disoriented, anxious and untrusting. Search teams know how
to approach the person, gain their trust and put them at ease for
the trip home.
Buffalo Hospital initiated the push to bring Freedom Watch to Wright County. With emergency agencies on board, the Foundation
dedicated the annual fall fishing tournament to raising money for Freedom Watch. A tele-fundraising campaign followed. Then
several community organizations jumped in, including Wright
Hennepin Electric's Operation Round Up, the Elim Care Foundation,
the Community Health Foundation of Wright County and the Buffalo
Families can sign up for Freedom Watch by calling Wright
County Human Services at 763-682-7875 for an application. The
service is $300 (includes leased bracelet, batteries, wristbands
and other necessary supplies) for the first year, then $105 each
year thereafter. Batteries are changed monthly to ensure the
bracelet always works. Scholarship funds from Buffalo Hospital
Foundation are available for those who qualify for assistance.